On Tuesday I attended the live reveal of the 2012 Toyota Camry lineup at Paramount Studios in California. The all-new Camry was unveiled with much fanfare in front of a live audience in Hollywood. The high-energy event was also simulcast to locations across the nation and online via a live webcast. Although it was exciting to see dozens of dancers gallivant around the Paramount Studios’ New York Street set, I was more excited to get behind the wheel of the new hybrid. Yes, I am a car geek.
Since there were hundreds of people there, Toyota asked that visitors pair up for a test drive. My driving partner was Osha Gray Davidson of The Phoenix Sun. Our nearly 10-mile round trip drive took us from Paramount Studios up to the Griffith Park Observatory and back.
Osha drove the first leg of the trip, which gave me time to assess the passenger side of the vehicle. The first thing that I noticed is that the cabin is spacious and actually quite roomy. The Camry is a mid-sized vehicle but that doesn’t always equate to adequate legroom, even for a front-seat passenger. The backseat appeared to have an ample amount of legroom, as well.
In addition to being spacious, the cabin was very quiet. Even though we were in a hybrid, the gasoline engine kicked on several times and it was nearly impossible to detect an increase in noise from within the cabin. At one point, Osha rolled down the windows so we could hear the engine noise and compare it to the lack of noise we heard with the windows up.
Once we arrived at Griffith Park Observatory, it was my time to get behind the wheel. Although I’ve never driven a Camry Hybrid before, I do drive another Toyota-made hybrid, the Lexus HS 250h and so I had something to compare the Camry to.
The very first thing I noticed was that the transition between the electric motor and the gasoline motor was seamless - I was not able to detect when the gasoline motor powered on and off. This is a welcome change from my Lexus hybrid, which shudders slightly when the gasoline engine kicks on.
From a handling perspective, the Camry Hybrid was a pleasure to drive. The road down from Griffith Park Observatory was filled with curves and switchbacks and the car handled like a dream. I was also impressed with the car’s acceleration. Although it is a hybrid, there is power available to the driver when needed.
From the spacious cabin to the quiet ride and the great handling to the available power, I think that the Camry Hybrid is really the perfect family car. I could see my family loading up the car for a road trip and actually enjoying the drive – no one would be cramped, our ears wouldn’t be irritated by road noise and the vehicle is even fun to drive.
For more information on the all-new 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid, which will be available in October, visit the Toyota Camry website.
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